Cupping therapy is relatively new to western massage techniques yet it has been used in the Middle east, Greece and in China for centuries. Each culture has used cupping in various formats; in Europe, silicone cups have been adapted to apply a suction technique to the skin and underlying muscle structure. Cupping therapy is a powerful technique in massage therapy to relieve stiff and tight muscles in the body and when applied, immediately stimulates blood flow to the affected areas. Deep muscle nodes and adhesions are vacuumed to the surface of the skin so that blockages are relieved. The waste in the body is released and immediately disposed of. Western societies were made more aware of this form of therapy when sport athletes like Olympian swimmer Michael Phelps were televised with round spot like dark coloured marks on his back and shoulders during his epic performance at the Olympic games. Frequency Introducing cupping therapy to a client for the first time, it is important to begin gradually on the affected areas and then to build it up while observing how the body reacts. How often? Depending on the client’s anatomy and reaction, once every 2 weeks. Usually the dark or red spots will fade within a couple of days to a week. When the cupping spots have disappeared, a repeat therapy can be advised. Depending on the client, a therapy of 4 to 5 treatment sessions could be applied.
My own experience of cupping massage treatments
“When I first experienced cupping therapy I cautiously agreed as 1 cup was drawn over my back and I felt the top layer of skin being suctioned up. It wasn’t painful but certainly a strange unaccustomed feeling. After a minute or two, I felt a tightening of my skin and began to relax as the therapy was applied. When the cup was removed, my skin felt as if there was a lightness over my entire back and my muscles had loosened up. Since then I have had cupping done if not on a fortnightly basis then at least once a month.”
Complaints that benefit from cupping
Cupping can be applied for a variety of complaints such as: Burnout, stress, fatigue, stiff or tight muscles, shoulder and neck complaints and back pain. It can also be applied to clients with circulatory problems and cellulites
How dangerous is a cupping treatment?
If we have learned anything about a method that has been used for centuries by the Egyptians, Greeks and Chinese, is that through trial and error certain techniques worked and were documented or passed down to family members. The ancients used cupping for pain complaints, reptile and insect bites and fevers. There are different forms of Cupping: Wet Cupping, Fire Cupping, Cold Cupping and Dry Cupping. With Dry Cupping and Moving Cupping. Silicone cups are applied to the oiled skin and pressed to create a vacuum, no fire or incisions. Depending on the complaints, it is also possible to massage with a motion cup. This means that the cup is slid on the skin while the cup is vacuuming.
After cupping care
Due to the vacuuming pressure on the skin, round spots appear after treatment that can vary in colour from light red to dark purple. They will disappear in a few days to a week. Advice is to keep the skin warm after a treatment and drink plenty of water as this promotes waste disposal.
Safety by evaluation
A certified therapist will always consult with the client to evaluate if cupping therapy can be applied. No one client is the same and because cupping is a deep therapy, it is important to discuss with the client in advance.
Researched by Shaun Spencer